Commemorating the Sept. 6 1814 skirmish at Halsey’s Corners in Plattsburgh, re-enactors dealt with rainy conditions.
Watching the sky drizzle, soldiers grumbled that their black powder charges couldn’t be trusted in such watery weather.
They stood shoulder-to-shoulder a few minutes later, watching the enemy approach. The order was shouted to ready rifles for the opening salvo.
As the rain fell, another order was shouted, “Fire!”
Click. Click. Click.
The rifles weren’t firing. Just as the soldiers had feared, the black powder rounds were failing.
The last rifle in line roared fire at the enemy line.
“The cannon!” shouted one of the enemies. “Wait for the cannon to fire, that’s the signal to start.”
The cannon was actually a 1/3 size carronade set up by re-enactor Craig Russell. Russell represented the Americans in a mock battle that placed the British at a disadvantage of two to one.
Tom Pray, a redcoat, offered an explanation, “It's hard to round up that many guys, especially when it's raining.”
This preview of the annual Battle of Plattsburgh celebration dedicated the Invasion Trail that the British followed in the build-up to the battle and the placement of an interpretive display at the corner of Halsey Court and Boynton Avenue.
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett attended the event, and said that Plattsburgh's rich history should be as celebrated as other sites important to American history.
The town is working on a destination master plan to encourage tourism and increase local awareness of important historical spots.
“There's so much history that's taken place through the ages that is simply lost,” said Bassett.
Many battles took place in the town, said Bassett. The celebration that the city puts on is great, but once there weren't political distinctions dividing the Town and City. The entire area was part of the battleground, and local history should be promoted more aggressively, he said.
Town Historian Jerry Bates said the battle site is part of everybody's history here. It's good to know what came before so you can understand your place in time, he said.
The Invasion Trail marks points of interest on the path the British marched.
It's not such an easy hike for most, though.
“You'd have to be very industrious to walk it,” said Bates. The Invasion Trail stretches from Champlain to the Kent Delord House in Plattsburgh.
Also displayed at the ceremony was a painting by John Purdy, made to commemorate the occasion, will be displayed at the war of 1812 museum on the former Air Force base, behind the jets displayed near the Route 9 roundabout.
The Battle of Plattsburgh weekend returns Sept. 9 to 11, with events around the city. Learn more at www.battleofplattsburgh.org.